Can we have an honest chat?

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Have you ever had a “down” day?  Have you ever felt “blue”?  I have and I’m sure you have too.  There are times when the challenges of life feel like they are crushing in on us, there are times when situations catch us so off guard that it sends us into a sad tailspin for days or even for a short season.  The ebb and flow of life can bring both sadness and joy.  Even King David had some “blue” days where he cried out to God “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak” (Ps. 31:9-10).

However, what if you found it impossible to move past those “blue” feelings?  What if you’ve tried everything you know to be happy and positive but the heaviness you feel remains?   What if anxiety and depression have become and unwelcome guest on your life journey? Shouldn’t you be able to fix it with enough faith in God?  What’s wrong with you?

Peter Kramer in his article; It Can’t Be Depression, I’m a Christian tells us:

“Christians feel guilty about being depressed. They feel they should “know better.”  This leads to denial, which only makes matters worse. Well-meaning friends, and even pastors, who don’t understand what is going on, encourage them to “snap out of it,” and offer advice on “getting their Christian act back together.”

But clinical depression and anxiety isn’t something a person can “snap out of.”

What if your depression and anxiety required some form of wisely administered medication to assist you in regaining that needed chemical balance? This is where we get religion and physical health mixed up?  With every other physical challenge, thyroid issues, asthma, cancer, heart disease, etc, we find it completely acceptable to require medications to bring greater health and healing, yet historically  the church can get really uncomfortable when medications are required for greater mental health.

Carlos E. Whittaker, a pastor, in a recent article says;

Common myths in the church as it relates to mental illness are:
1. A person struggling with mental illness needs to have more faith.
My faith and my serotonin levels have nothing to do with each other.
2. A person struggling with mental illness should forgo medicine and pray harder.
You wouldn’t tell an asthmatic to pray harder during an asthma attack. You would tell them to suck on that inhaler.

If you are a person who struggles with regular anxiety and depression then you are probably nodding your head in agreement.

Years ago, as a very positive type of person,  I was shocked to find myself in the midst of postpartum depression! I loved my baby.  Why couldn’t I shake off these feelings? Didn’t I have enough faith?  I was ashamed to tell anyone about how I felt and I didn’t know how to make it stop!  Finally, I got some much-needed help and over time I re-gained my emotional balance.

God understands our dark feelings, our doubt, our discouragement, and yes, even our depression; and his desire is to help us. Sometimes, the help we need might include professional counseling and some form of medication. After all, God created the minds that created these medications, and it is not a sin to take them if you truly need them. Sometimes simply making better choices for food, rest, and relaxation rhythms can be all that’s required to move us to a healthier place. Sometimes we need greater intervention.

You may agree with me or disagree with me, and that’s okay. However, as a Pastor’s wife and a Coach for many years,  I have heard the shame in the voices of those who struggle with the depression and anxiety; this breaks my heart.   Add their need for medication  and the shame triples! I don’t believe they should feel any shame; I don’t believe they are faithless people.  I believe God cares deeply and wants His church to express His heart to hurting people in the midst of a very difficult struggle.  I know you do too.

If you struggle daily with depression or anxiety; please get the help you need. Find someone to talk to, get some medical support, and refuse to let shame or embarrassment keep you from living a life full of purpose, peace, and joy.

Romans 12:15  Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

Spring Cleaning ~ Getting the dirt beneath the surface.

 

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I live in Bend, Oregon where the seasons are pretty tricky! We will get a week or 2 early in Spring where the sun is shining and the temperature ranges between 65-75.  Everyone goes and gets fresh flowers to plant or put onto flower baskets to decorate their porches; feeling certain it is finally Spring! But, without fail, such as today, we wake up to more snow and temperatures in the low 30’s and 40’s.  Only those who live to ski appreciate this ongoing Winter weather! Nevertheless, the calendar says it is officially Spring!

Spring is a great time to clean out the garage, cupboards, closets, and pantry. Something about Spring causes us to feel the need to organize, clean out, and refresh many areas in our homes to make us feel as if there is some renewed order in our lives.  This weekend I switched my kitchen cupboards and drawers all around to create a better flow; I cleared out my pantry of the many vases and baskets I had been storing for that “event” someday.  I decided to be ruthless~ If I hadn’t used it over the past year then it had to go! It felt really good!! 🙂

As I ponder the whole idea of Spring Cleaning, I wonder if it might be fruitful to take the same amount of time to do some deep, personal Spring Cleaning?

What might it be like to take some intentional time to consider the consider the condition of our hearts:

*have we allowed bitterness or unforgiveness; discouragement or offense to take residence in our hearts over the long Winter season?

What about our Words? Could they use some cleaning up?

*have we allowed the words we say to be full of doubt, criticism, sarcasm, and fear as the seasons have passed? Do our words bring life to ourselves and others?

What about our minds~ How we think?  Could we need a little extra Pine-sol for that?

*have we allowed fear, judgment, regret, and sadness to reign supreme in our thinking over the past year? When we talk to ourselves are we a good influence or are kinder to others than we are to ourselves?

Do we need to dust off our irritations? Have we gotten bogged down by things that bug us?

*have we allowed little things (or people) annoy us so much that we find that regularly extending grace to situations (or people) has become increasingly challenging over the past calendar year?

I know I could use a fresh “mopping”! 🙂

If any of those scenarios apply, then perhaps this Spring will be fantastic time to get “really shiny!!”  Perhaps as you honestly asses how much “dust” has built up in these key areas you will be able to regain a joy-filled heart, express words that bring life, become clear-minded and ready to focus on the positive and the possibilities, and perhaps also finding the energy to extend fresh grace as opposed to remaining easily irritated.

Here are some “cleaning tools” just to get you started!! 🙂

“God longs to purify you from your sins, to wash you and make your heart “whiter than snow”. Psalm 51:7

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me” Psalm 51:10

You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Now remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:3

Happy Spring!

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